We’re not quite into NFL free agency and well before the draft, so speculation season continues.
The San Francisco 49ers are not picking up the 2019 option of veteran wide receiver Pierre Garçon. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo broke the news Thursday morning on Good Morning Football. Garçon started his career with the Indianapolis Colts before moving to the Washington Redskins and spending his last two seasons in San Francisco.
Breaking on @gmfb:— GMFB (@gmfb) February 14, 2019
According to @MikeGarafolo, the @49ers will not pick up the option for 2019 on WR @PierreGarcon. pic.twitter.com/doaYudrcCu
GARAFOLO: “Last year, [Garçon] was injured a little bit. You remember, right before the trade deadline, there was some talk that some teams were maybe going to be interested in him. He still wants to play from what I gather, so this is going to be an intriguing option potentially on the free agent market. This wide receiver free agent market is not very deep here, so you could add an experienced name to the list right here. We’ll see how much in interest there is in Pierre Garçon. It should be some.”
The 32-year-old’s release led some to believe that he may draw some interest from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Pierre Garcon is a name to watch. He's 32 and coming off a knee injury, but he's a savvy veteran who could help a contender as a secondary option.— Matt Verderame (@MattVerderame) February 14, 2019
With Tyrell Williams and Chris Conley likely out in LAC/KC, the #Chargers and #Chiefs would be intriguing fits.
@Chiefs @packers @Broncos ? https://t.co/4kKbX8aFt3— Will Blackmon (@WillBlackmon) February 14, 2019
The Chiefs ended their season with seven receivers on the active roster (Kelvin Benjamin, Chris Conley, Gehrig Dieter, Tyreek Hill, Marcus Kemp, Demarcus Robinson, Sammy Watkins), two on injured reserve (Byron Pringle, De’Anthony Thomas) and one on the practice squad (Josh Crockett).
Three of those receivers are set to become unrestricted free agents—Kelvin Benjamin, De’Anthony Thomas and Chris Conley, while Marcus Kemp is an exclusive rights free agent.
I expect the Chiefs to retain Kemp, who they like on special teams and as a developing receiver, while allowing Benjamin and Conley to walk in free agency. Benjamin was a low-risk signing that did not pan out and Conley can make more money on the open market than the Chiefs can reasonably afford to spend on him.
I personally still wouldn’t rule out a Thomas return. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub loves Thomas, and don’t forget he took less money to stay in Kansas City last March.
That leaves Hill, Watkins, Robinson, Dieter, (possibly) Thomas and a pool of young talent to choose from for their sixth receiver. The team likes Pringle, who was a standout in training camp last year before injuring his hamstring.
The question of Garçon comes down to a number of questions: Do the Chiefs have interest in retaining Conley, who was on the field for more than 75 percent of snaps last season? If they move on, do they have enough faith in Robinson and Dieter or a combo of the two to replace him? Would they draft a developmental receiver in the late rounds in that scenario? Do the Chiefs even like Garçon? Do the Chiefs have greater interest in another free-agent receiver? How much would Garçon cost? Would we see the first sign of the Mahomes discount I expect will be a thing moving forward?
Garçon could provide a veteran presence in a locker room that could use it. But while he has 11 years of NFL experience, he really hasn’t provided much production over the course of that span. Garçon has eclipsed 800 yards only three times, and he has missed half the regular season in each of the past two season due to injuries.
The bottom line
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach was adamant about the team’s youth movement last year, and signing Garçon, even to a team-friendly, one-year deal would be taking a step back in that regard. If Garçon wants more money, he becomes a non-option, as the Chiefs work through their tight cap.
I think the Chiefs pass on Garçon.
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